Just them Lodi boys makin’ some noise at Riot Fest East. Photo by Alf Berg.
Second verse, same as the first: the Original Misfits got up there in Chicago and played the hits like Famous Monsters never happened. Remember when mere mention of this band would send Glenn Danzig into convulsions? Now he’s done two reunion gigs with them, his mood at both jovial. “I bet a lot of you have kids you take trick or treating,” he opined last night. “Scream your ass off if you take your kids trick or treating!”
I wan’t there. I wasn’t at Denver Riot Fest either. The reasons are myriad. I felt skepticism that any of this would really go down, or that it might veer into disaster if it did. The venue struck me as wrong; the Misfits in their glory days were always a club band, and while I’m happy they can command headlining festival slots in 2016, an engagement at Irving Plaza would have been more spiritually authentic. And, of course, this assembly is not really the original Misfits—it is Most of The Original Misfits Featuring Dave Lombardo. Jerry and Glenn must have had a Batman v Superman moment where they both realized they dislike all the actual Misfits drummers with the same passion.
Call me fussy, call me prissy, call me a freelance hillbilly with a snoot full of honeybees. Denver and Chicago aren’t exactly around the corner. Yes, I feel some regret, but I also wouldn’t be having this discussion if the reunion had been Glenn, Jerry, Doyle, and Arthur Googy at the Whiskey a Go Go. Solace is located in the fact that 2017 is the 40th anniversary of the Misfits’ founding. I’d bet my collection of bird skeletons that something auspicious along these lines will occur to commemorate four haunted decades.
If not, there’s always the YouTube. You know, I never saw the Misfits when Danzig was in the band between 1977 and 1983. I’m keeping a streak alive.
Blackheart Acey Slade, Jerry Only, Doyle, & Glenny D. Photo by Alf Berg.
The rumors were true: former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo is the fourth participant in the Misfits reunion scheduled for Riot Fest 2016 (the first show of which is this weekend), overcoming the major obstacle of having never been a member of the band. Namaste, Dave.
Look, I love Dave Lombardo’s work. He’s a monster, an icon, an innovator. I listen to those Slayer records all the time. I’m intrigued to hear what he’ll do with material from Static Age and Earth A.D. It’s just that the original Original Misfits had five or six different drummers, and they’re all still alive. Glenn and Jerry couldn’t bite the kielbasa and get Googy for these two gigs? Make it a true reunion? There’s no way his fee is higher than Lombardo’s.
I get it. The Original Misfits™ have to consider the fact that this reunion could grow legs. Dave Lombardo has more experience than every Misfits drummer combined (some of whom haven’t even looked at a set of drums since “The Jeffersons” was airing). He’s prepared at any time to do other festivals, or a tour. More importantly, he has no pre-existing issues with Glenn or Jerry. Dave’s not gonna make trouble over some shit that happened in 1981.
Also, remember: this episode is mostly a legal resolution, an agreement between Glenn and Jerry so they stop dragging each other to court over pictures of skulls they stole from somebody else in the first place. So how heartbroken can anyone be? Shouldn’t we just be glad these guys have finally stopped suing each other?
Hire Charo as the drummer for all I care—I’m tired of reading legal documents. They started stacking higher than your records years ago.
On Earth as it is in court: Only and Danzig in happier(?) times.
The brand new Misfits legal horror business: founding singer Glenn Danzig has filed suit against bassist Jerry Only for breach of contract, claiming Only violated a 1994 legal agreement by trademarking various band logos and images in his own name in the year 2000. Danzig is seeking $75,000, but is also asking the court to figure out how much Caiafa might owe him as a result of lost or blocked licensing deals.
This action comes just five years after ex-Misfits Bobby Steele and Arthur Googy sued Only over the exact same thing. That case fell apart after key evidence on the plaintiffs’ side went missing (according to Steele, his ex-wife purposely destroyed said evidence during their very acrimonious breakup).
Both suits cite the same facts: during the second half of 2000, Jerry Only filed applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark various Misfits logos—including the Famous Monsters version of the Misfits logo and a version of the Crimson Ghost mascot (referred to in the legal papers as the “Fiend Skull”)—in his offstage name of Gerald Caiafa and did so without notifying other band members. The applications were all approved by 2003; Only then began licensing these logos to retailers. This violated a 1994/5 contract in which splintered Misfits factions agreed to share ownership of the band’s name as well as pre-existing trademarks, logos, and artwork. The Misfits were also bound not to use “names, likenesses and visual representations” of each other without written consent.
That contract, of course, was one of the end results of Only suing Danzig in 1992 over various copyrights and unpaid royalties. Another result: Danzig, who broke up the band in 1983, allowing Only the performance rights to the Misfits. Only has had some version of the band going ever since; in this new lawsuit, Danzig calls Jerry’s Misfits an “imitation,” asserting the “vast majority of…Misfits fans associate the [trademarks in question]” with his original stint, wherein Danzig was known as the band’s “creative heart.” The singer also suggests Only’s “primary qualification” for replacing original bassist Diane DiPiazza in February of 1977 is that “he had recently received a bass guitar for Christmas.”
Danzig apparently became aware of Only’s trademark moves around 2005; that’s when the singer first began filing cancellation/opposition proceedings with the U.S. PTO. Danzig last filed an opposition in 2008. Meanwhile, Only hasn’t let up in his quest to put the Misfits logos on every available surface. This would be fine and dandy, allegedly, if he had cleared it all with Danzig, and if he hadn’t bullied stores into not working with Danzig. To wit:
Caiafa has prevented and continues to prevent other retailers, including Hot Topic, which is the largest retailer of the Misfits products, from entering into licenses with Danzig and/or his designee to merchandise products…by falsely instructing the merchandisers that he is the exclusive owner of the marks, and that, if they enter into a license agreement with Danzig to exploit the marks, they must pay Caiafa a license fee and/or a significant monetary penalty…Caiafa’s misrepresentations have proximately caused injury to Danzig by causing merchandisers not to do business with him, and have deceived consumers as to the source of merchandise bearing the marks…Had Caiafa not interfered with Danzig’s ability to exploit the marks, Danzig or his designee would have entered into lucrative agreements to license the marks…”
Danzig (or rather, his lawyer) goes on to call Only’s behavior “despicable” and notes that he’s been “subjected to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of his rights.”
The most recent action in this case is the April 29 waiver of service of summons from Jerry Only’s attorney, which just means Danzig’s lawyer doesn’t have to send someone to New Jersey or Chicago or where ever Only lives now to serve the guy with papers.
Interesting bit with the “Fiend Skull.” Perhaps Danzig fears the wrath of Paramount Pictures, who currently own the original Crimson Ghost film serial from which the Misfits appropriated that logo. Someone at Paramount knows what they’re sitting on there: when I inquired about using a still from The Crimson Ghost in my book they asked for what amounts to half a year’s rent.
More on this story as it develops…or, maybe in this case, decomposes. Below: the first page of DANZIG v. CAIAFA, all of which I have read. Yes, there is reference to Kryst the Conqueror.
Earlier this week former Misfits guitarist Doyle “Wolfgang Von Frankenstein” Caiafa (né Paul) announced that he (and ostensibly the world) is ready for a touring / album reunion of “the original [Misfits] lineup” and that he is in fact the “only one” capable of brokering such an auspicious event. Quoth Doyle:
You know what? I’ve just decided this week that I am going to make an attempt, and I wanna do it. I’ll put what I’m doing right on the fucking side. I’ll go do it tomorrow.”
Great, I say with one hundred percent earnest, even though by “original” I’m sure Doyle means his early ’80s era of the band, which if we’re being polite was at least the fourth Misfits iteration. I am coming at you honest and true from my heart of hearts when I say it would really be something special to see founder Glenn Danzig, founding bassist Jerry Only, Doyle, and drummer Arthur Googy doing anything together, even if it was just twenty minutes on the side stage of some bullshit-ass festival. If you pressed me I might even use the term “magical.”
I am burying the lede, though. Scroll through the many comments on the aforelinked article and you’ll find a couple accounts from singers who tried out for the Misfits reformation that began in 1995 (and continues to this day with Only as the sole original member). I’m sure it will surprise absolutely no one familiar with the muscle-bound punk band to learn there was, allegedly, a weight lifting requirement.
“I was trying to get an audition with the Misfits back when they were looking for a replacement for Danzig,” writes Paul LaPlaca. “I answered an ad in the [Village] Voice…[and] I was given a machine gun series of questions on everything from my influences to how much I could bench press. I blew the interview when I asked who I was talking to. He said, ‘Jerry.’ As I took it down with pen and paper I asked, ‘And your last name?’ ‘Jerry ONLY. The BASS player.’ click.'”
“I also remember being asked how much I could bench press,” replied Edward Martin.
Disclaimer: LaPlaca and Martin might be trolling us fiends, feeding into the meathead Jersey Boy stereotype some people like to believe the Misfits embodied / still embody, but I don’t think their claims are too far-fetched. Physical stature has long been a key component of the Misfit image, and it’s not like they’re saying Jerry asked them to name their favorite New York Giants place kicker. If this bench pressing thing is true, one must wonder the exact number for entry into this legendary band (250? 300? A Buick?). Also, how much could Michale Graves bench in 1995? He clinched that open vocal spot despite looking no stronger than any given Baldwin.
Oh, and since I’m sure everyone reading this remembers the “Saturday Night Live” skit the the top image is taken from there is absolutely no need to discuss it beyond this sentence.